*Atiku, Tinubu, Obi, Kwankwaso Clash in Historic Poll
On the 24th anniversary of the election that returned Nigeria to Democracy in 1999, Nigerians will today file out to elect a President that will run the country for another four years, effective May 29.
All the 18 registered political parties are fielding candidates for the presidential election, but the four leading candidates are Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peter Obi of the Labour Party and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).
These four men have divided the country across all lines in an election that promises to be keenly contested.
Their campaigns across the 36 states and Abuja have been rancorous, with the candidates feeding fat on tribal, ethnic and religious sentiments.
Candidates of these four political parties also dominate the race for the seats in the National Assembly across the states, also holding today. 109 Senate seats and 360 House of Representatives seats are up for grabs.
It is in the midst of this bitter division that the over 87 million people with Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) will troop out today to determine the fates of Atiku, Tinubu, Obi and Kwankwaso.
As at press time, INEC had distributed sensitive and non-sensitive election materials to all the states of the federation.
The Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Mahmood Yakubu, assured Nigerians that the commission would not fail the nation and the international community.
He promised that today’s elections will be free, fair, credible and lead to the outcomes that all Nigerians expect.
Yakubu said yesterday that the results will be declared as quickly as possible.
He said: “I just want to say that we will ensure that result declaration will be done speedily. I can’t put a finger on the number of days or number of hours it will take, but it will be done speedily. We are aware of the anxiety and the need for us to conclude the process quickly, it will be concluded quickly.”
Police Assure Nigerians on Security
The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba has urged Nigerians to go out and vote without any fear today, assuring that they will be well protected.
The IG has mobilised 310, 973 officers and men to provide security for today’s election. Other security outfits, aside the military and the Department of State Service (DSS), would complement efforts of the police with a total of 93,133 personnel, bringing all to 404,106 security agents.
Baba said: “With this layout, a minimum of at least two personnel, drawn from the above agencies, will be jointly deployed to man each of the polling units across the country, while the armed personnel will secure the public space, INEC facilities, vulnerable locations, border areas, as well as undertake armed escort duties for INEC personnel, materials and local and international observers.”
The IG has also ordered restriction of all forms of movement nationwide beginning from 12 AM to 6 PM on election day.
The restriction covers vehicular movement on roads, waterways, and other forms of transportation, with the exception of those on essential services such as INEC officials, electoral observers, ambulances responding to medical emergencies, firefighters, etc.
A statement from the Nigerian Police Force reads: “The order, which is part of measures emplaced to ensure a safe, secure, and conducive environment for the conduct of elections, is aimed at ensuring public order management, the safety of electorates, as well as assisting the security agencies in effective policing, thereby preventing hoodlums and criminally-minded elements from disrupting the electoral process.
“Similarly, the IGP sternly warns all security aides and escorts to desist from accompanying their principals and politicians to polling booths and collation centres during the election as anyone found flouting this directive will be severely sanctioned.
“He emphasises that only security personnel specifically assigned to election duties are to be seen within and around the designated election booths and centres. Also, the ban on the unauthorised use of sirens, revolving lights, covered number plates, and tinted glasses is still in force, and violators would be sanctioned appropriately.”
All state-established and owned security outfits/organisations, quasi-security units, and privately-owned guard and security outfits have also been barred by the IGP from participating in election’s security management.
Similarly, the Commandant General of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Ahmed Audi, has said that the Corps will deploy 102,000 officials for today’s election.
While assuring Nigerians of general security coverage nationwide, Audi stated that the Anti-vandalism Squad and Special Forces would also be deployed to all critical national assets and infrastructure, including flashpoints in the states and the FCT, to protect them against vandalism, damage, or arson by criminal elements before, during, and after the elections.
Atiku is carrying all sections of the country along and pledging inclusiveness.
He demonstrated this by picking his Vice-Presidential candidate from the South. He has also promised power devolution if elected President.
Atiku wants to recover Nigeria from “poverty, disease, hunger and bad government.”
He also wants to restore Nigeria’s unity, which he believes has been badly mismanaged by the Buhari-led APC federal government.
Being a businessman with hundreds of employees and therefore more amenable to job creation in the face of mass unemployment, Atiku appears attractive.
With the level of poverty, unemployment and Naira crunch in the country, most voters even in the stronghold of APC, are most likely going to resolve their doubts in favour of Atiku by way of seeking alternatives to the present reality, especially with the millions of jobs lost to shady handling of the economy.
The unending killings in the country under an APC-led federal government may further make voters want to try alternatives.
In his closing campaign, Atiku declared: “You have the APC, whose candidate for President is the national leader of the party; a party that has, for almost eight years now, brought to our country a period of unspeakable misery, economic decline, mass poverty, massive insecurity, monumental job losses, fractionalisation, disunity, and injustice. A party under whose watch, our country has witnessed a frightening descent into anarchy, multidimensional crises, economic meltdown.
“It was under the APC that our country returned to pauper-nation status with over N77 trillion in debt, and under whose watch, over 22 million of our children are now out of school!
“Then you have my party, the PDP. The PDP midwife the longest period of sustained economic growth in our country, instituted fundamental reforms and new innovations, leading to an explosion in opportunity for our citizens in the telecoms, fintech, financial services and other cutting-edge technology space. It was the PDP that rebuilt Nigeria’s economy and turned it into the largest economy in Africa.
“The APC is asking you to vote for them to renew this misery and destruction; to renew the violence, the wanton destruction, the killings and kidnappings; and to renew the harsh and brutal conditions that so many people in our country now live with, on a daily basis.
“In contrast, the PDP, led by me, is asking for your vote to elect a government that will work to Recover Nigeria from the misery, insecurity and economic decline of the last eight years and bring into office a government that works for all Nigerians, irrespective of tribe, tongue or religion, based on our founding principles of Unity, Justice and Progress.”
Tinubu’s campaign is anchored on “consolidating Buhari’s achievements.”
He said the Buhari administration had done a lot in the areas of infrastructure, agriculture and poverty alleviation and he is aiming to build on these achievements.
Tinubu said: “There are also some sectors where we must adopt new approaches and stress new priorities. Our administration will work to ensure not just a farewell to poverty but also usher in an era of prosperity in our country. To achieve this, we will re-engineer our security architecture to enhance the capacity of our armed forces and security agencies to guarantee the safety of the lives and properties of our people.
“We will task our ingenuity to drastically enhance the country’s revenue generating capacity so that we can adequately fund and fundamentally improve the quality of social services in education, healthcare and housing, among others. We are determined to ensure that incessant strikes by unions in our public universities become a thing of the past.
“Ensuring adequate and uninterrupted electricity will be one of our cardinal priorities. This will help boost the performance of the industrial sector and create jobs on a massive scale for our teeming youths. We shall put in place a robust and virile credit system so that more people can acquire the basics of life such as housing, cars and household equipment and pay gradually. That will have the immediate effect of reducing the motivation to resort to corrupt means of wealth accumulation.”
In his campaign, Peter Obi showed capacity, experience and huge understanding of the issues that are wrong with Nigeria, stressing the need for good and incorruptible government as a panacea.
Obi is aiming at building a new Nigeria and promoting a private-sector driven economy that will create jobs and wealth for the people.
Obi, in his last appeal to Nigerians, said: “We are currently at a crossroads. We need a leader to show us the way forward. We need a prudent president, a principled president who has what it takes to lead. As we say in Naija, ‘we need person who sabi road; a person we go follow make this country better.’ A new Nigeria is possible. We can make it.
“We want to move our economy from importing and consuming products to producing, consuming less, and exporting more. That is the essence of Consumption to Production.
“I ask you, my people, to empower me as your president and commander-in-chief. I will be in charge. I have the requirements for correct leadership: character, competence, commitment, compassion, hard work, honesty, humanity, and humility.
“I have the courage and the heart with which to deliver the dividends of democracy freely and fairly to our people. We can change this country. If it takes us making the supreme sacrifice, let us make it for a greater tomorrow.”
Kwankwaso also promises a new Nigeria, “where equity, justice and fairness are possible. A new Nigeria where safety and security are guaranteed, a Nigeria where peace and prosperity are ensured.
“A Nigeria where equity and opportunities are available and accessible to all citizens, a Nigeria where quality education and modern healthcare services are accessible and guaranteed to all and a Nigeria where governance is about the yearnings and the aspirations of all the citizens.”
Obi leads in most of South East and South South states with a strong showing in Lagos, Benue and a possible win in Plateau State.
Tinubu on his part, leads in the South-west, Borno and Yobe States, with a strong showing in the North-west.
Atiku has a strong showing in most of the North, while leading in Adamawa, Bauchi, Jigawa, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Delta, Akwa Ibom and Taraba States, with a very strong showing in Zamfara, Niger, Kwara, Nasarawa and Osun States.
Kwankwaso is leading in Kano with a strong showing in Jigawa, Katsina and Taraba States.Strengths & Weaknesses Atiku Abubakar
*Experience, capacity, competence
*Broad national support
*Political pedigree with wide exposure
*Extensive contacts nationwide
*Courageous and a team player
*A Northerner disrupting power rotation that may see Fulani to Fulani power transfer
*Crony capitalist/deal maker
*Seen as too old
*Part of the infamous old order
*Huge war chest
*Rich political experience
*Nationwide contacts, friends
*Seen as a team player
*Perceived as corrupt
*Could be a dictator if elected
*Health and age issues
*Perceived as vengeful
*Doubtful mental alertness
*Vibrant, focused, determined
*Seen as an alternative to old order
*Strong youth support base
*Robust on policy
*Decent, no corruption baggage
*From zone with low voting power
*Limited war chest
*Weak in Northwest/Northeast
*Feeble political platform
*Strong on policy
*Strong political background
*Not a team player
*Limited war chest
*Weak southern support base
*Frail political platform
*Perceived as stubborn+